The triangular continent of South America stretches from north of the equator almost down to the Antarctic Circle. It contains three very different landscapes. In the west, the Andes tower 22,833 ft (6,959 m) high, forming a backbone down the entire length of the continent, along the Pacific Ocean coast. Dense rainforests in the humid Amazon valley and along the Caribbean coast cover much of the north and northeast. In the south, windswept grasslands and dry pampas roll down to the cold, rocky point of the continent at Cape Horn.
The world’s longest mountain chain, the Andes, runs 4,505 miles (7,250 km) down the western edge of South America. Its steep slopes are terraced to grow barley, potatoes, and wheat on its colder, upper slopes, and coffee, tobacco, and corn on the warmer, lower slopes.
Total land area: 16,886,000 sq miles (7,835,000 sq km)
Total population: 355 million
Number of countries: 12
Largest country: Brazil 3,286,469 sq miles (8,511,965 sq km)
Smallest country: Suriname 62,344 sq miles (161,470 sq km)
Largest country population: Brazil 175 million
Largest lake: Lake Titicaca, Bolivia/Peru 3,220 sq miles (8,340 sq km)
Longest river: Amazon, Brazil 4,001 miles (6,439 km)
Highest point: Cerro Aconcagua, Argentina 22,833 ft (6,959 m)
Major deserts: Atacama Desert, Chile
Largest island: Tierra del Fuego 18,140 sq miles (47,000 sq km)